A New World Of Flex And Articulation
In our June '02 issue, Four Wheeler shined its spotlight on a collection of fresh-outta-the-box new suspension kits from a number of manufacturers. This time around, we turn our attention to suspension kits that are designed specifically to enhance travel and articulation. Some offer downright crazy travel for the ultimate in trail performance, while others offer a modest increase in articulation over standard lift kits. Obviously, these kits are a step above a typical suspension upgrade, but don't think they're designed just for the rockcrawling junkie, because as we all know, suspension articulation and travel spell better off-highway performance wherever and however you 'wheel. Isn't that what we all want?
What it fits: '82-'86 Jeep CJ-7 and -8, '87-'95 Jeep YJ
Amount of lift: 4-5 inches
Components & features: After a brief hiatus, the venerable XCL kit is back, and it continues to offer a substantial increase in trail performance by creating a wild amount of suspension travel. The kit replaces all of the stock suspension components and includes a new skidplate which serves as the anchor point for the links that locate the front and rear axles, new radius-arm-style front trailing links, new front track bar, new front shock towers, new front shock mounts, front coilover shocks, a four-trailing-link rear suspension, rear-axle truss and a new crossmember that serves as an upper mount for the rear coilover shocks. Options include a race-inspired rear antiroll-bar assembly and an upgraded shock that is completely rebuildable and re-valvable.
More info: Black Diamond Suspension, Dept. FW, 274 Huey Lenard Loop Road, West Monroe, LA 71291, 866/680-6666, www.blackdiamondoffroad.com.
What it fits: 2000-'02 Nissan Xterra
Amount of lift: 3 inches
Components & features: This kit is designed to make the Xterra a serious player off-highway, and it includes chrome-moly tubular upper control arms, greasable ball joints, heavy-duty torsion bars, idler arm brace, rear add-a-leaf and all shocks and hardware. To further improve flex, rear Revolver shackles and antiroll bar quick disconnects can be added as options.
More info: Automotive Customizers, Dept. FW, 1538 SW 7th Ave., Pompano Beach, FL 33060, 954/785-4223, www.4x4parts.com.
What it fits: '97-'02 Jeep TJ
Amount of lift: 4-4 1/2-inches
Components & features: Currie enterprises calls this flexy kit the Johnny Joint Suspension, and it features new coil springs, front and rear bumpstop kit, Antirock antiroll-bar or JKS antiroll-bar disconnects, Johnny Joint-equipped adjustable track bar and control arms, rear track-bar arm relocater and Rancho RS 9000 shocks. This complete and balanced component kit features zerk fittings for lubrication at all pivot points and Currie's exclusive polyurethane bumpstops with rear spring retainers.
More info: Currie Enterprises, Dept. FW, 1480 N. Tustin Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807, 714/528-6957, www.currieenterprises.com.
What it fits: '99-'01 Suzuki Grand Vitara/Chevy Tracker
Amount of lift: 2 1/2 inches
Components & features: Longer control arms are one of the items that make this kit a must-have for the serious Grand Vitara/Tracker owner who wants improved articulation. The kit also includes two heavy-duty rear coil springs, heavy-duty link arms, new ball joints, rear track-bar bracket, replacement front struts, rear shocks with boots, bumpstop extensions, strut spacers, complete hardware and polyurethane bushings at all contact points. The kit allows for full articulation with tires up to 29 1/2 inches tall.
More info: Calmini Products, Dept. FW, 6951 McDivitt Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93313, 800/345-3305, www.calmini.com.
What it fits: '86-'95 Toyota mini pickups, 4Runner
Amount of lift: 3 inches
Components & features: This kit provides an impressive frontend travel increase of five inches-or a total travel improvement from the stock 6 inches to 11 inches; plus it offers an additional 3 inches of droop extension. Best of all, the kit doesn't lower the front differential housing, so there isn't any lost ground clearance. Later this year Downey will introduce its newest kit for '86-'95 Toyotas, which will offer 13 1/2 inches of total travel, nearly indestructible Porsche Turbo CV joints, and stock torsion bars replaced with a coil-spring conversion.
More info: Downey Off-Road, Dept. FW, 10001 S. Pioneer Blvd., P.O. Box 3725, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670-3221, 562/949-9494, www.downeyoff-road.com.
What it fits: '94-2000 Dodge Ram 1500
Amount of lift: 5 1/2 inches
Components & features: Fullsize Dodge Rams are cool, and Fabtech designed this kit to ensure that owners of said vehicles could squeeze every bit of fun out of these solid-axle machines by offering increased suspension articulation. The kit includes new 5 1/2-inch-lift front coil springs, upper and lower tubular extended-link arms that allow the front axle to travel further without bind, track-bar relocation bracket, heavy-duty link mounts, dropped pitman arm and shocks. Rear suspension options include blocks and add-a-leaf combo or replacement leaf springs. A multiple shock system is available for the front suspension.
More info: Fabtech Motorsports, Dept. FW, 1000 Beacon St., Brea, CA 92821, 714/990-8850, www.fabtechmotorsports.com.
James Duff Enterprises
What it fits: '66-'77 Ford Bronco
Amount of lift: 3 1/2 inches
Components & features: This kit offers early Broncos the ability to achieve massive articulation and suspension travel by combining the James Duff Stage II & III Suspension Systems. The kit includes 15-inch-travel shocks, longer tubular radius arms, long-travel coil and leaf springs, bushings, brackets, shock hoops, and rear shock mounts. The result is a truck that can handle high-speed washboard surfaces or low-speed rockcrawling.
More info: James Duff Enterprises, Dept. FW, 261340 Highway 101, Sequim, WA 98382, 360/683-2160, www.jamesduff.com.
Full Traction Suspension
What it fits: '82-'86 Jeep CJ, '87-'95 Jeep YJ
Amount of lift: 7 1/2 inches
Components & features: This new bolt-on spring-over-axle kit with shackle reversal allows for full articulation of 35x12.50-15 tires, and includes springs, front and rear perches, integrated one-piece bumpstop limiters, front and rear U-bolt skidplates, K-link replacement steering linkage kit and all required hardware. All of the components are laser-cut and feature a powdercoat finish.
More info: Full Traction Suspension, Dept. FW, 6951 McDivitt Dr., Bakersfield, CA 93313, 800/255-6464, www.full-traction.com.